Backpacking Essentials

Top Selected Products and Reviews

"Bright, well-made, and easy to use" - by W. Costley (Danville, KY)
I'm a bit of a light buff (used to be a lurker on CandlePowerForums). I first saw these lanterns on Amazon (only place I've seen them to date) and they attracted me for several reasons. They looked sturdily built, thoughtfully designed, and I liked that they had diffuser over the LEDs. (I've noticed most small LED lanterns expose the LEDs directly to your eyes, and the light is too glaring.) Plus, I liked that they came in a multi-pack and I thought the colors looked nice. So when they came in back in stock for under $20, I bought them.

Although I've only had them two days, I couldn't be more pleased. The lights are about the size I expected--when closed with the handles collapsed, it is about the size of a standard soup can. The handles, fully extended, add about four inches in length. They are a good ... full review
"Good lightweight emergency tent/bag option" - by Brent Hanson (Olympia, WA United States)
I haven't used it yet, but it's lightweight, and perfect for my emergency kit.
"Folded in half it's large enough to keep 2 seated men dry in pretty heavy rain" - by Christopher
This tarp is very well made, with helpful ties at all the right spots. Folded in half it's large enough to keep 2 seated men dry in pretty heavy rain. Super light for the amount of space it covers. Very easy to get back into the stuff sack that it comes with.
"Easy sparks!" - by Randy Watson (North Cackalacky)
I have several firestarters (bought more for curiosity than anything) and this one throws a larger shower of sparks than any of the others. Note, the first thing you'll need to do is use the included tool to scrape off part of the coating on the rod. That will expose the silver/shiny fire-sparking material underneath. This is very simple to do; just scrape a couple times and you're good to go.

The included compass and whistle work (the compass better than the whistle), but that shouldn't be the reason for buying this. Again, I'm most impressed by the amount of sparks I'm able to get. For best results, the technique I've come to like involves keeping the scraper tool stationary and pulling BACK the other hand that contains the starter rod. This also makes for less chances of hitting/knocking over your tinder pile.

- Throws off showers ... full review
"Comfortable, compact and light-weight." - by Barb (Chicago, IL United States)
I just received this bag and haven't used it for camping yet. I was finding it a bit difficult to blow up, but then I realized I was making it difficult.
As soon as I stopped counting the breaths, and acting like I had a deadline to complete it, I was fine. Just use it as an opportunity to "yoga breathe". Relax, breathe in thru your nose, exhale thru your mouth. Repeat until inflated. Bonus - I was nice and relaxed afterwards.
The sleeping pad is very compact and light-weight. It fits inside the bug bivy that I'm planning to use. I'll be using it with a silk sleep sack.
Tried it out on our wood floor, and it was comfortable. For such a thin pad, it really cushioned me from the floor. I found it roomy enough -
for reference, ... full review
"My son loves his compass" - by tmholm
This is so cool. I bought this arlt a discounted price for my son. I'm glad I did. I think every child should learn to use a compass. Seeing the quality and the interest it peeked in my son about direction and travel is worth the full price. I recommend it to anyone who wants their child to discover new adventures in learning.